Firestorm viewer seeks volunteers

Are you a little bit crazy? Have a slight taste for personal suffering? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to develop a personality tic? You might be perfect for our team!

– From the Firestorm blog post on volunteers

This is light-hearted start to a blog post by Firestorm’s Jessica Lyon that has a serious intent: a call for assistance from Firestorm users willing to give some of their time to help support both the Firestorm viewer and the Firestom team’s other activities in Second Life.

As the most popular Second Life viewer (and a viewer with a strong following in OpenSim), Firestorm actually requires a lot of upkeep; not just in maintaining and extending the code either by exposing debug features provided by Linden Lab or through the provision of dedicated code contributions, but also in ensuring the viewer is fit for purpose ahead of any release and in providing that same vast user community with ongoing support and assistance.

As such, Firestorm is looking for volunteers willing to join the following teams:

  • Firestorm Support: helping residents solve problems they may encounter with installing and using the Firestorm viewer through the in-world support groups and by filing support tickets on the Firestorm Jira (bug-reporting system).
  • Firestorm QA Team: helping to ensure each viewer release is as good as it can be, by finding and reporting bugs (part of which means accepting frequent crashes). But it also means getting to see, use and test new features before the rest of the user base.

You can read more about the roles through the blog, and the Support Team Application Form.

Firestorm are also looking for people to help with work at the seven regions of the Firestorm Community Gateway

In addition, Firestorm is looking for mentors to help assist new users at the Firestorm Community Gateway. The work is rich and diverse, including providing insight, advice, and direction, responding to questions of every possible variation on the viewer and Second Life, helping new residents learn about the viewer and interact with the virtual world, and more.

Those interested in the role are invited to visit the Social Club at the Firestorm Gateway in world, where a red box can be found, offering an application form, which should be posted back to the box when completed.

Find out more via the official Firestorm blog post.

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Firestorm fund-raiser

Firestorm fund-raising market

The Firestorm team has launched a fund-raiser, primarily to help cover the cost of a new main server, used to host the team’s JIRA, web site, wiki, code repository, and so on. However, as the Firestorm blog post on the matter also notes, the team also have recurring costs involved in the license they have to pay in order to use the Kakadu codec for rendering in the viewer, and costs involved in running the land costs (albeit subsidised by the Lab) involved with the Firestorm Community Gateway.

To this end, the new fund-raiser is planned as a hopefully long-term event, and also designed to help people get rid of their unwanted gacha items.

Located over the Firestorm gateway regions is a “Firestorm market” featuring stalls and vendor boards where visitors can purchase collected and donated gacha items. Note that despite the confusing blog title, this is not itself a gacha event – there are no machines, just the opportunity to buy individual items and complete sets previously sold via gacha vendors, which the Firestorm team have collected or have received as donations.

The prices of items vary throughout, and many of them might well be offered under the acronym WTGTG – when they’re gone, they gone.

Firestorm fund-raising market

Anyone wishing to donate items can do so by contacting Kio Feila in-world.

In addition, those wishing to help the Firestorm team but who don’t find anything of interest on sale, can make direct L$ donations, or flow links to the Firestorm listings on the Marketplace, which male and female Firestorm Jackets can be purchased, with all funds also going towards helping cover the team’s costs.

All funds raised will be used directly and solely towards  the Firestorm operating costs and overhead; all Firestorm team members are volunteers who receive no financial or L$ compensation.

Kokua update, MetaChat issues and Firestorm version block

A quick round-up of news relating to a handful of viewers and clients.

Kokua

Kokua 64 bit (Windows, Mac and Linux) updated both the RLV (5.1.7.43693) and non-RLV (5.1.6.43692) flavours of the viewer on Sunday, August 11th. I’ve not had time to drive the update – and my not be able to, due to other commitments. However, the core of the update brings the viewer to parity with the SL viewer 5.1.7 code base, and offers some updates from the Kokua team, described in the release notes as follows:

In addition the options for configuring the chat range rings and colours move from the Kokua General preferences tab to Kokua Chat which as well as being more logical also frees up space needed in the RLV version for a new option on the General tab.

The RLV version gains an option on the Kokua General tab which allows @standtp to be disabled. This has been added because @standtp tends to operate in various counter-intuitive ways despite operating as intended.

Here’s one scenario that illustrates the problem:-

  • @standtp is applied to the avatar.
  • The avatar hitches to (sits on) a cart.
  • The avatar pulls the cart from location A to location B.
  • The avatar is unhitched from the cart (stands up).
  • At that point @standtp teleports them back to location A.

Links

MetaChat

MetaChat the iOS client  is having problems courtesy of Apple. The app was removed from the iStore on August 9th, as part of a purge by Apple on “gambling apps”.

Enquiries have been lodged with Apple on when / if the app will be allowed to re-list, but thus far, no response has been given.

In the meantime, versions already downloaded  / downloaded and installed will still work, this move by Apple only affects the client’s listing on the iStore.

iOS / MetChat users can read more on the MetaChat blog, where updates will also be posted.

Firestorm Version Block

A reminder to Firestorm users, Firestorm 5.0.1.52150 (released December, 2016) will be blocked from Tuesday, August 14th, in keeping with the Firestorm team’s policy of only allowing the current, and the two version immediately prior to it.

This means that if you are still used Firestorm 5.0.1, you need to update to a more recent version: 5.0.7, 5.011 or the current 5.1.7 release.

To find out more about why Firestorm versions are blocked, please read this blog post from the Firestorm team.

Firestorm 5.1.7: back up to speed

On Tuesday, July 24th, 2018, the Firestorm team announced the release of Firestorm 5.1.7.55786. Coming somewhat later than had been hoped, it incorporates some significant updates from recent Lab viewer releases, together with updates from, and contributed to, the Firestorm team, plus the inevitable bag of bug fixes as well.

In keeping with my usual approach to Firestorm releases, what follows is an overview of the release, highlighting some of the more significant changes  I feel will be of most interest to users.

Table of Contents

 

Please use the table of contents on the right to jump to any specific topic of interest. Full details of all changes, and contributor credits can be found in the official release notes.

The Usual “Before We Begin” Bit

As per my usual preamble:

  • There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
  • Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 5.1.7.

Core Updates

  • Firestorm 5.1.7 has parity with all version of Linden Lab’s viewer, up to version 5.1.6, with additional cherry picked fixes from upstream of that release.
  • KDU updated to version 7.10.4 (7.A.4) – Kakadu release notes.
  • Firestorm 5.1.7 has been updated to Restrained Love API: RLV v3.2.1 / RLVa v2.2.0.55786 – see the RLVa 2.2 Release Notes for details.

Major Lab Derived Updates

This is a summary of the main updates derived from Linden lab’s core viewer code.

  • 64-bit Project Alex Ivy: rebuilds the viewer using 64-bit address space, utilising Linden Lab’s Alex Ivy code base. This should improve viewer stability, particularly for those with more than 4 Gb of memory, and possibly also improve performance.
    • As the 64-bit Alex Ivy code uses Linden Lab’s Havoc sub-libraries that are specific to Second Life, this means that the 64-bit versions of Firestorm for Windows and OSX now have both Second Life and OpenSim flavours, the latter allowing for continued support of OpenSim users.
    • The 64-bit Linux build remains with the Firestorm team’s own 64-bit code.
  • Media Updates – Project Dullahan: a series of updates, fixes, improvements and security patches for the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF), that is the basis for the viewer’s built-in web browser.
    • The option to not accept cookies has been removed due to complexities of not doing so in the in-viewer browser. For a more controlled cookie experience, an external full-featured browser may be better.
    • Also includes updates to VLC, that provides support for video media playback.
  • Rendering Improvements – Project love Me Render: this is a large collection of rendering improvement from LL. See the Love Me Render release notes for details.
  • Vivox Update and Voice Fixes: a number of updates / improvements:
    • Adds support for a higher quality voice using SLVoice version 4.9.
    • Fixes the apparent position of the speaker in nearby voice.
    • Improves retry behaviour when there are problems connecting or during temporary connection problems.
    • Logs more detailed information to the Lab for quantifying connection issues.
    • Improves security of the communication between the viewer and SLVoice.
    • Note that with these changes:
      • Local teleports will cause a short (a few seconds) voice interruption because the viewer now detaches from voice a little earlier in the teleport sequence.
      • With some SLVoice changes, the SLVoice executable can be copied into another viewer – that will not work with this update. There are changes to the connection between the viewer and SLVoice that are required. Talking to any viewer version should work.
    • Unrelated to voice, improves the validation of TLS certificates (security improvement).

Additional Lab-Derived Updates

This update also includes:

  • Avatar Physics improvements / safety checks: this fixes the problem with boob movement freezing & boobs getting stuck at odd angles (BUG-202903 / FIRE-22135)
  • Sculpties no longer rendered until fully loaded (or fail to load): this should remove the blobs and spheres see in-world as sculpties load.
  • Viewer frame rate fix (BUG-6943): viewer FPS should no longer drop when facing away from certain objects.
  • Inventory directory (BUG-214575 / FIRE-22281): the inventory directory should no longer be deleted while keeping the Delete key.
  • Report Abuse (BUG-202904 / FIRE-22152): double-clicking the Report Abuse option will no longer crash the viewer.
  • Materials update: normal and specular maps are no longer downloaded if ALM is off.

See the Firestorm Change Log for a full list of Lab and Firestorm fixes.

Firestorm Updates and Additions

User Interface: New Features and Updates

Menu Updates
  • Avatar:
    • A new Favorite Wearables option for accessing the Favorite Wearables panel (see below).
    • A new Show / Hide User Interface option (also ALT-Shift-U). Use the keyboard shortcut to show the UI when hidden, and note that chiclets and script dialogues remain visible with the UI hidden. CTRL+ALT+F1 will still hide / show the UI as well.
  • World:
    • Set Home To Here relocated to be with the other place-related options.
    • Teleport Here has an added separator between it and the menu options below it.
World menu: Set Home to Here has been relocated, and Teleport Home has an additional separator below it to help avoid incorrect clicks when using it.
  • Help: new item: Firestorm Events Calendar – opens the Firestorm Google Calendar of event, including all Firestorm classes.
Preferences Updates
  • Firestorm:
    • Uploads: new button to reset custom uploads folders to their viewer defaults.
    • Build 1: it is now possible to switch the Script Editor font type and adjust the font size. All pre-processed output also obeys the chosen font.
It is now possible to set the font style (drop-down arrowed left) and font style / size (drop-down arrowed right) for the Script Editor
  • Move & View: new options to manage viewer-side region crossings add to the Movement sub-tab. See Experimental Region Crossing Code, below.
  • User Interface:
    • 2D Overlay: new option to make the statistics bar ignore focus requests when closing other floaters with CTRL+W. When enabled, the statistics bar will never receive focus when another window is closed. Actions such as changing graph layout for items are still possible when enabled.
New Toolbar Buttons
  • Beacons: opening the Beacons floater panel.
  • Wearable Favorites: see Favorite Wearables Panel, below.
Panels and Floaters
  • Appearance Panel:
    • Wearing Tab: the Wearing tab now lists the rendering complexity of each worn in-world object. This can be accessed via the Avatar menu > Appearance (or CTRL-O) and then open the Wearing tab.
    • Outfits Tab:
      • Double-click will add/remove.
      • Wearing tab – double-click will remove for “Wearables” and “Temporary attachments”.
  • Inspect Panel:
    • A new “Options” button has been added to the Inspect panel allowing you to select which columns are displayed.
    • New object complexity count added to the information display on the left of the panel.

Favorite Wearables

The Favorite Wearables panel can be used to list frequently used items (e.g. HUDs, attachments) in a floater so they can be quickly attached or removed as needed. This can help with performance, as you can conveniently detach attachments you’re not using and remove their simulator script overhead, or take off HUDs you’re not using, to remove their texture memory use, then quickly re-attach them when needed without having to locate them in Inventory.

The panel has its own toolbar button for quick access., or can be opened via the Avatar menu > Favorite Wearables.

To add items to the panel:

  • Open the panel and your inventory.
  • Drag the items you want to display in the panel from inventory into the panel window. Note this will create a link to the original item in the #Wearable Favorites folder in inventory.
  • To remove an item from the panel, right-click on the item to highlight it and then click the Trash icon at the top of the panel. This will remove the item from the panel’s list, delete the link in the #Wearable Favorites, but will not delete the item from your inventory.

To attach an item listed in the panel, simply right-click on it to display a menu comprising the familiar Add, Wear, Attach to and Attach to HUD (for HUDs) options. This menu also allows you to view the object’s profile, or use Show Original to open your Inventory and highlight the original version.

The Favorite Wearables panel can be accessed via the Avatar menu or a new Toolbar button. It can be used to list HUDs and other frequently used attachments which can be added / removed via a menu.

Right-clicking on an attached item (shown in a different colour in the panel) will display a menu with options to edit the attachment (opens the Build panel), detach it, open its profile or locate the original in inventory.

In addition, the panel includes a search bar that will cause the panel to only display items which fully or partially match the text typed into it, and a drop-down list of sort options.

Continue reading “Firestorm 5.1.7: back up to speed”

Firestorm 5.0.11.53634: rendering, LOD and physics

On Wednesday, January 24th, 2018, the Firestorm team released Firestorm 5.0.11.53634. This is a significant update to the viewer, incorporating code updates from a number of recent viewer releases from Linden Lab, as well as some major updates from the Firestorm team and a number of important new features and updates, as well as a range of bugs fixes and improvements.

Given the extent of the updates in this release, and in keeping with my usual approach to Firestorm releases, what follows is  not an in-depth review of everything new  / updated in version 5.0.11.53579, but rather an overview, highlighting some of the more significant changes and updates I feel will be of most interest to users.

For full details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.

The Before We Begin

  • There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
  • Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 5.0.11.

Major Lab Derived Updates

Firestorm 5.0.11 brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 5.0.9 code base. It includes the following major updates from the Lab.

  • Asset-HTTP Project: Firestorm now fetches the majority of inventory assets (landmarks, wearables – system layer clothing and body parts), sounds, gestures and animations) the same way as textures, mesh and avatar baking information: via the Content Delivery Network (CDN), rather than through the simulator. This should make loading of such content both faster and more reliable.
  • 64-bit Havok sub-libraries: the 64-bit version of Firestorm now uses Havok physics with the mesh uploader , and can now visualise the pathfinding navmesh.
  • Group ability Always Allow ‘Create Landmark’:  this was accidentally removed from the viewer, and has now been returned. When enabled on a group role, it allows members of that role to override the teleport routing (e.g. right-click >teleport to) on the parcel if a landing point is set, as long as Direct Teleport is enabled on the region (BUG-100719).
  • Incorporation of the Martini (November 2017),  Moonshine (September 2017) and Margarita (August 2017) viewer updates.

Note: while Firestorm 5.0.11.53634 includes the 64-bit Havok sub-libraries for Second Life, it is not using Linden Lab’s Alex Ivy 64-bit code base. That will be for the next FS release.

Firestorm Updates and Additions

Viewer Performance: Mesh Rendering Information Features and Updates

Key among the updates to this release of Firestorm are new features and updates to a number of floaters intended to help users make better judgement calls on how content in Second Life might be affecting their viewer performance, and potentially make more informed choices about the goods they purchase in-world.

Build Floater – Physics View

The Show Physics Shape icon (Build Floater > Features tab) – disabled (top); enabled (bottom)

Firestorm now includes an option to viewing the physics shape of objects you can edit. Among other things, this can help avoid having items you drag from inventory fail to appear in-world, with the message “Failed to place object at specified location. Please try again.” appearing in the top right corner of the viewer window.

The option is on the Features tab of the Build floater, and takes the form of an eye icon to the right of the Physics Shape drop-down.

  • If displayed with a red line through it (default): show physics shape is disabled
  • If shown without a red line through it: show physics shape is enabled.

When enabled, the selected object’s physical shape is shown in blue. Sometimes this will match the shape of the object itself (below left); other times, it may not (below right). Any attempt to rez another item on the part of the object covered by the blue will succeed; any attempt to rez on the part of an object not covered by the blue will likely result in the “Failure to place object” message.

The show physics shape option: Build floater > Features > eye icon next to Physics Shape Type drop-down. When enabled, it shows the physics shape of an object, which may (l) or may not (r) match the physical shape of the object. Click for full size, if required

Showing the physics shape of surfaces reveals why some may be walkable and why avatars may have problems with others – such as colliding with “something” while apparently not standing close to an object, or being unable to pass through a gap or open doorway.

Notes:

Build Floater: Mesh Information

The Build floater also provides a range of new information specific to mesh objects and their level of detail (LOD). This can be seen on the Object tab of the floater when a mesh object is selected. For prim objects, the tab is unchanged and will display the “old” information (Path Cut, Hollow, Twist, Taper, etc.).

For a detailed examination of LOD please refer to For LOD’s sake stop! by Beq Janus. The following is intended to provide a brief overview of the mesh object information.

Mesh objects can comprise up to four different versions, as defined by the creator a very High detailed model, with a high count of triangles, displayed with the object is being viewed up close, and then up to three models with progressively less detail (fewer triangles), designed to be used the further away the camera is from the object (Medium, Low and Lowest). These are collectively referred to as level of detail models, and are designed to improve the rendering of scenes. In essence, the further away (or smaller) and object is, the less detail can be seen and so the less detailed versions can be under when rendering it, easing the overall rendering load.

The first two parts of the mesh information related to these models when a mesh object is selected:

  • Mesh Information: lists the number of triangles used in each of the LOD models the creator has provided (note that if two ore more of the model types has the same triangle count, it indicates the same model is being used (so if Low and Lowest both show 3, or example, the same 3-triangle model is being used for both)
  • Default Drop-down: allows you to preview each of the different LOD models for the object (make sure Default is selected after use).
Up to four LOD models can be defined for SL – from a highly detailed, high triangle count version to a very low detail / low triangle count version (top). The Mesh information display allows the triangle count for the available LOD models of an object to be checked (Mesh Information section), and the actual models themselves previewed (Default drop-down). It also provides information on when the models will be swapped, one to the next, according to your viewer’s LOD Factor and the distance of your camera from the object (shown enlarged on the right) – click for full size

The Object LOD behaviour section defines the distances from your camera at which the different LOD model will be swapped one for the next, as defined by the Linden Lab (LL) default LOD Factor (1.250), the Firestorm (FS) default LOD Factor (2.000) and your current LOD factor setting.

Continue reading “Firestorm 5.0.11.53634: rendering, LOD and physics”

Firestorm 5.0.7: tight and tidy

On Tuesday, June 20th, the Firestorm team released Firestorm 5.0.7.52912.

This is something of a maintenance update than a major feature release, covering as it does the more recent updates from Linden Lab – the improved region and parcel access controls, updated Trash behaviour to try to help control risks of inventory loss, custom folders for uploads, the avatar complexity updates, and a host of smaller fixes and tweaks.

Most of these have been adopted directly from the Lab’s code, others  – such as the avatar complexity updates – have been folded-in to existing capabilities in Firestorm. There are also numerous updates and improvements from the Firestorm team as well.

In keeping with my usual approach to Firestorm releases, what follows is  not an in-depth review of everything new  / updated in version 5.0.7.52912, but rather an overview, highlighting some of the more significant / interesting changes, updates and  fixes, which I feel will be of most interest to users.

For details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.

The Before We Begin

  • There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
  • Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 5.0.7.

Major Lab Derived Updates

Firestorm 5.0.7 brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 5.0.5 code base. So, as noted, this release supports the updated region and parcel access controls, the latest avatar rendering updates, custom upload folders, etc..

Updated Region / Parcel Access Controls

The updated region / parcel access controls, introduced by Linden Lab in May 2017  mean that when a region holder / manager explicitly sets a region for open access to visitors (via the Region / Estate floater), parcel holders on the region can no longer override the setting at the parcel level and create ban lines around their parcel (although they can still use the parcel ban list and scripted security systems if they wish and subject to any covenant).

These updates mean that both the Estate tab in the Region / Estate floater has been updated, and the behaviour of the Access tab in the About Land floater has changed.

In the case of the Estate tab in the Region / Estate floater, the check box Allow Public Access has been removed, and a new option, Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive, has been added (see below).

The new Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive option on the Region / Estate > Estate tab and its Apply button. Used to determine whether or not parcel owners can set parcel access restrictions through the About Land floater

By default, Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive is checked, which means that parcel owners should see no difference in behaviour for their parcels unless an estate holder / manager opts to make changes at the estate level.

Should the option be unchecked, the estate holder / manager making the change will receive a warning that they are about to make a change that could affect parcel settings in the estate:

The new warning estate holder / managers will see when changing the new access settings

To set the change, the region holder / manager must then clear the warning (OK) and click the Apply button on the Region / Estate floater – failure to do so will leave the option unchanged.

UNCHECKING the option will result in two things happening at the parcel level:

  • Parcel owners will receive a new system notification for every parcel in the region they hold which has been affected by the change:
The new system notification displayed to parcel holders for every parcel in the region they hold which has been affected by a change to the region’s access settings at Estate level
  • Any previously active banlines around affected parcel will be removed, and parcel owners will no longer be able to set parcel access restrictions via About Land > Access, as the options to do so will be greyed out:
When the Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive option is checked, the parcel-level access options in the About Land floater will be greyed out for parcel holders, preventing them from overriding the region-level access

If a region which previously allowed parcel holders to set their own access restrictions is set to public access (by unchecking Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive and clicking APPLY), and then is reverted again (by checking Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive and clicking APPLY), all parcels on the region will revert to the access settings applied to them before any changes to region access were made at the estate level.

Trash Behaviour Changes

To try to help with inventory losses through accidental deletion of objects which have mistakenly been moved to Trash, the Maintenance RC viewer has the following Trash related behaviour changes:

  • The prompt displayed when you have over 5K items in Trash is amended to show the trash folder when you’re ready to purge it, and before you can purge it.
  • Backspace will now only delete on Mac systems (as it’s the only option available), it will no longer delete on windows.
  • The purging Trash notification now gives a count of items in Trash.
The Trash purging warning now gives a count of the items about to be permanently deleted from the Trash folder – one of the new behaviours in the Maintenance RC viewer designed to help combat accidental inventory loss through Trash deletions
  • The “Are you sure you want to delete this thing” warning will be seen at least once per session.

Note: Firestorm have included a debug setting to disable the trash purging warning – FSDontNagWhenPurging. This is set to FALSE by default (the warning will be displayed). It is recommended you do not change this setting unless you have complete confidence that you are unlikely to accidentally purge wanted items from trash / you viewer is unlikely to incorrectly move folders to your Trash.

Continue reading “Firestorm 5.0.7: tight and tidy”